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Stocks Post Moderate Gains as Fed Chair Powell Signals Rate Cuts This Year

Barchart - Wed Mar 6, 10:13AM CST

The S&P 500 Index ($SPX) (SPY) this morning is up +0.65%, the Dow Jones Industrials Index ($DOWI) (DIA) is up +0.43%, and the Nasdaq 100 Index ($IUXX) (QQQ) is up +0.84%.

Stock indexes this morning are moderately higher as bond yields fell after the ADP employment report showed companies hired fewer than expected workers in February, a dovish factor for Fed policy.  Stocks maintained their gains, and bond yields fell further after Fed Chair Powell said it would likely be appropriate to begin cutting interest rates “at some point this year,” although they’re not there yet.

The U.S. Feb ADP employment change rose +140,000, weaker than expectations of +150,000.

The U.S. Jan JOLTS job openings fell -26,000 to 8.863 million, showing a slightly stronger labor market than expectations of 8.850 million.

Fed Chair Powell said it will likely be appropriate to begin lowering borrowing costs "at some point this year," but "the committee does not expect that it will be appropriate to reduce the fed funds target range until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2%." 

The markets are discounting the chances for a -25 bp rate cut at 2% for the March 19-20 FOMC meeting and 23% for the following meeting on April 30-May 1.

Overseas stock markets today are mixed.  The Euro Stoxx 50 is up +0.44%.  China’s Shanghai Composite closed down -0.26%.  Japan’s Nikkei Stock Index closed down -0.02%.

Interest Rates

June 10-year T-notes (ZNM24) this morning are up +6 ticks, and the 10-year T-note yield is down -4.1 bp to 4.112%.  Jun T-notes this morning climbed to a 3-week high, and the 10-year T-note yield fell to a 3-1/2 week low of 4.096% after the Feb ADP employment change was weaker than expected, a dovish factor for Fed policy.  T-notes also garnered support on comments from Fed Chair Powel, who said it would likely be appropriate to begin lowering borrowing costs "at some point this year."  Strength in stocks today has reduced safe-haven demand for government debt and limited gains in T-notes.

European government bond yields today are mixed.  The 10-year German bund yield is up +0.4 bp at 2.327%.  The 10-year UK gilt yield fell to a 2-1/2 week low of 3.985% and is down -0.7 bp at 4.004%.

Eurozone Jan retail sales rose +0.1% m/m, weaker than expectations of +0.2% m/m.

German trade data was better than expected as Jan exports rose +6.3% m/m, stronger than expectations of +1.5% m/m and the largest increase in 3-1/2 years.  Also, Jan imports rose +3.6% m/m, stronger than expectations of +1.8% m/m and the biggest increase in 11 months.

U.S. Stock Movers

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is up more than +7% to lead gainers in the S&P 500 on signs of strong demand for the company’s artificial-intelligence-focused servers, with a backlog of orders for the servers at $3 billion, up $500 million in the latest quarter. 

Crowdstrike Holdings (CRWD) is up more than +14% to lead gainers in the Nasdaq 100 after reporting Q4 revenue of $845.3 million, above the consensus of $839.6 million and forecast 2025 revenue of $3.92 billion-$3.99 billion, the midpoint stronger than the consensus of $3.94 billion.

Dexcom (DXCM) is up more than +5% after the U.S. FDA approved the company’s over-the-counter Stelo product, the first glucose biosensor cleared in the U.S. for use without a subscription.

Palantir (PLTR) is up more than +8% after being awarded a $178.4 million contract from the U.S. Army to develop and produce ten prototype ground stations that use artificial intelligence and machine learning to process targeting information from space-based, airborne, and ground sensors. 

Target (TGT) is up more than +3% after HSBC upgraded the stock to buy from hold with a price target of $195.

JD.com (JD) is up more than +18% after reporting Q4 sales of 306.1 billion yuan ($42.6 billion), stronger than the consensus of 300 billion yuan, and initiated a $3 billion stock repurchase program.

Super Micro Computer (SMCI) is up more than +3% after Argus Research initiated coverage of the stock with a buy recommendation and a price target of $1,350.

Honeywell International (HON) is up more than +2% after Berenberg upgraded the stock to buy from hold.

Cigna Group (CI) is up more than +1% after Barclays initiated coverage of the stock with a recommendation of overweight and a price target of $393.

Brown-Forman Corp (BF/B) is down more than -9% to lead losers in the S&P 500 after reporting Q3 net sales of $1.07 billion, weaker than the consensus of $1.12 billion. 

Palo Alto Networks (PANW) is down more than -2% to lead losers in the Nasdaq 100 on signs of insider selling after an SEC filing showed Chief Technology Officer Zuk sold $10.9 million of shares last Friday. 

Foot Locker (FL) is down more than -28% after forecasting 2025 adjusted EPS of $1.50-$1.70, weaker than the consensus of $1.91. 

Nordstrom (JWN) is down more than -13% after reporting Q4 net sales of $4.29 billion, weaker than the consensus of $4.33 billion. 

Thor Industries (THO) is down more than -10% after reporting Q2 net sales of $2.21 billion, below the consensus of $2.26 billion, and cutting its full-year net sales forecast to $10.0 billion-$10.5 billion from a previous forecast of $10.5 billion-$11.0 billion, weaker than the consensus of $10.65 billion. 

Tesla (TSLA) is down more than -2% after Morgan Stanley cut its price target on the stock to $320 from $345.

Estee Lauder (EL) is down more than -2% after a report detailed how acne products from several brands are alleged to contain elevated levels of benzene, a chemical linked to cancer.

Fifth Third Bank (FITB) is down more than -1% after the company said at a RBC financials conference that it expects Q1 net interest income to be “slightly softer,” down -3% versus previous expectations of down -2% to -3%.

Earnings Reports (3/6/2024)

Brown-Forman Corp (BF/B), Campbell Soup Co (CPB), NET Lease Office Properties (NLOP), Thor Industries Inc (THO), Victoria's Secret & Co (VSCO).



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On the date of publication, Rich Asplund did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

Provided Content: Content provided by Barchart. The Globe and Mail was not involved, and material was not reviewed prior to publication.

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